In the early morning hours of Monday, November 11th, Veteran’s Day, Tony Poland awoke to what he thought were wild animals rummaging outside the RV where he and his family lived in a remote area of Woodland Park, Colorado. When he went out to investigate, he discovered that the entire barn immediately behind the RV was engulfed in flames. The fire quickly spread, and he and his family escaped just in time to watch their home and its contents burn to the ground. Emergency App
A Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) was called to the scene later that morning. It was frigidly cold when supervisor Keith Marcantel and trainee Alex Hewett arrived at the mountain property. The family of three, Tony, Gail and son Asa, was clearly shaken by the incident.
As the family told their story and surveyed what remained of the barn and RV, Hewett offered hugs, then quickly ran back to his “go kit” for hand-warmers, blankets and water. Mercantile interviewed the family in order to open a case. He made sure they a place to stay for the coming few days. He asked about the minor burns to Poland’s head and set up a health services volunteer to follow up with him later. He gave them comfort kits containing toiletries to meet their immediate needs and walked them through the Moving Forward literature that would help them make decision about their next steps.
Just thinking about everything that happened last night was overwhelming for Gail, but tears came to her eyes as she expressed her thanks for the support from the Red Cross. "I didn't even know the Red Cross would come out just for us. It's Veteran's Day and you guys came all the way out here on your day off, and you’re volunteers!" Gail said. For his part Tony shared, “I'm just incredibly tired, and I had no idea what to do. And I'm really glad you were here on the worst day of my life."
Trainee Hewett was feeling satisfied, “When we arrived, it was a pretty rough situation. But we were able to offer the family a lot of valuable support. By the time we left they were smiling, and I felt like we had helped prepare them to face the road ahead.”
Kieth Marcantel is a School Psychologist and has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2002. He serves as a DAT supervisor as well a shelter supervisor. He has deployed to local floods and wildfires as well as travelling as far as Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey.
Alex Hewett is a new Red Cross volunteer. He is a student at UCCS. He holds a BS in Biology and is studying to become an EMT and Emergency Room nurse.